Saturday, May 11, 2013
Bejarano rolls to win 3,000
By Jack Shinar
Jockey Rafael Bejarano earned the 3,000th North American victory of his career when 1-2 favorite Ondine rolled to an easy victory in the first race May 11 at Betfair Hollywood Park.
The milestone in the first-level $54,000 allowance event came less than 12 years after the 30-year-old native of Arequipa, Peru, began his career. He won his first race, aboard his initial mount, Dec. 8, 2001, at Hipodromo de Monterrico in Lima.
Bejarano's first United States win July 10, 2002, also came with his first mount, John Bobby, at River Downs. He came to Southern California in 2007 when he was first-call rider for Bobby Frankel.
He has won 17 meet riding titles, including four at Hollywood Park, and took six consecutive Southern California titles in 2008-09. Bejarano is leading the jockey standings at the current Hollywood Park spring/summer stand.
The 3 3/4-length length win by Ondine, a 3-year-old Medaglia d'Oro filly trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Bob Baffert for Peachtree Stable, was Bejarano's 16th as he attempts to defend his crown. He ran away with the 2012 spring/summer championship, finishing with 74 victories, 25 more than runner-up Edwin Maldonado.
He is coming off the biggest year of his career in terms of earnings in 2012, ranking fourth nationally with more than $17.1 million.
"I'm so happy to do this in front of my friends and people who have always supported me, especially my agent [Joe Ferrer] and valet ([Armando Sanchez],'' Bejarano said. "I've had a lot of opportunities since I've come to California.
"I'm really happy for this moment. A week ago somebody told me I only needed seven or eight to get to 3,000, so I was starting to get excited and preparing for it. Nobody can get to 3,000 that easy, and I'm really honored to be here.''
Bejarano has won three Breeders' Cup races, including the 2007 Distaff with Ginger Punch and the 2005 Filly & Mare Turf with Intercontinental. Other million-dollar wins came with Papa Clem in the 2009 Arkansas Derby, Paynter in the 2012 Haskell Invitational, and Heatseeker in the 2008 Santa Anita Handicap.